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Digital Switchover Begins in Lagos, Kano, Others April 29

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By Adedapo Adesanya

The federal government has announced dates for the commencement of the digital switchover from analogue in Lagos and four other states.

The Digital Switchover (DSO) would commence in the five states between April and August while the exercise would kick off in the remaining states thereafter.

The Minister of Information and Culture, Mr Lai Mohammed, announced the dates when he led members of the Ministerial Task Force on DSO on an advocacy visit to Lagos State Governor, Mr Babajide Sanwo-Olu, on Saturday.

He noted that the government had launched the switchover in Jos, the Plateau State capital on April 30, 2016, as well as four more states – Kwara, Kaduna, Enugu and Osun – and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT).

“We are now moving rapidly to cover the remaining 31 states. We are kick-starting the new rollout here in Lagos State on April 29, 2021.

“Kano State follows on June 3, 2021, Rivers State on July 8, 2021, Yobe State on July 15, 2021, and Gombe State on August 12, 2021, with more states slated thereafter,” the minister told the governor.

He explained that the decision to transition from analogue to digital television followed a treaty agreement signed on June 16, 2006, at the Regional Radiocommunication Conference (RRC-06) in Geneva, Switzerland, to usher in all-digital terrestrial broadcast services for sound and television by a target date of June 17, 2015.

Mr Mohammed added that this was aimed at creating a people-centred information society that would connect underserved populations and remote communities, thereby bridging the digital divide.

He stated that analogue broadcasting was no longer an efficient technology as it could only provide a limited choice of programming due to restricted bandwidth.

The minister noted that the same transmission channel used to broadcast a single analogue programme could carry a multiplex of up to 20 digital programmes of equivalent quality.

The rollout in Lagos, according to him, reflects the Federal Government’s decision to take the DSO to commercial centres across the country.

“With a population of over 20 million, and projected TV households of over five million, the launch of FreeTV in Lagos State will be a critical milestone for the DSO and for Nigeria’s broadcast and creative industry.

“The DSO is not just about high-fidelity sound and picture, it is about creating jobs, especially for our teeming youth, stimulating local content and empowering channel owners,” Mohammed said.

“In the next three years, the DSO is capable of creating one million jobs, in the manufacturing of set-top box or decoder manufacturing, TV production, film production, distribution supply of STBs, TVs and Dongles for the internet, as well as TV and online advertising.

“Lagos State, which is the hub of the creative industry, will take a large share of the one million jobs to be created,” he added.

Adedapo Adesanya is a journalist, polymath, and connoisseur of everything art. When he is not writing, he has his nose buried in one of the many books or articles he has bookmarked or simply listening to good music with a bottle of beer or wine. He supports the greatest club in the world, Manchester United F.C.

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Nigeria, Others Break Pledge Not to Impose Internet Restrictions

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impose internet restrictions Surfshark

By Adedapo Adesanya

A new study showed that Nigeria was among those that pledged to uphold free Internet according to a 2021 United Nations resolution but yet imposed restrictions.

The UN resolution on human rights on the internet aims to protect and promote human rights online, but some supporting countries have broken their word, according to a study by Cybersecurity company Surfshark, analysing UN countries’ stances in the 2021 UN Human Rights Council (HRC) Resolution on the promotion, protection, and enjoyment of human rights on the internet.

It was conducted by comparing countries’ stances with data from Surfshark’s Internet Shutdown Tracker, Surfshark was able to identify 5 African countries that claimed to support the resolution but “broke their word” by imposing internet restrictions.

On Nigeria’s end, it had one ongoing restriction at the time of the resolution’s adoption but has had no new restrictions since then.

Nigeria had banned Twitter a month before the adoption, and the restriction lasted until January 2022.

The federal government suspended Twitter on June 4, 2021, after it removed a post from President Muhammadu Buhari that threatened to punish regional secessionists.

The FG told the nation’s telecommunication companies to block access to users in Nigeria, leading users to fall to the use of Virtual Private Networks (VPNs). It was not until January 13, 2022, that the suspension was lifted.

Other African countries that supported the 2021 UN resolution but “broke their word” were Sudan, Burkina Faso, Mauritania, and Somalia.

The report noted that Sudan has “broken its word” the most in Africa, with nine internet disruptions that took place after the country supported the 2021 resolution, the first one happening amid the 2021 military coup.

Burkina Faso comes in second, with four restrictions since the resolution’s adoption in 2021. The country’s 2022 restriction on Facebook is still in place today. Mauritania and Somalia both had one internet restriction since supporting the resolution. Mauritania restricted mobile internet amid a prison riot, and Somalia had an internet blackout after the parliament voted to remove the prime minister.

Speaking on this, Gabriele Racaityte-Krasauske, Surfshark spokeswoman, said, “In today’s world, internet shutdowns have become a major concern. Authoritarian governments frequently employ them as a means to manipulate the public and stifle free speech. The UN resolution on human rights on the internet aims to make countries openly condemn these shutdowns and other ways of restricting online speech.”

“However, it’s concerning that even though 5 African countries publicly supported the resolution, they still imposed internet restrictions. It’s important to promote an open and accessible internet and pressure countries to uphold their commitments regarding human rights online,” she said.

Nine countries from other continents also “broke their word”: India, Cuba, Uzbekistan, Pakistan, Russia, Brazil, Armenia, Indonesia, and Ukraine.

Surfshark’s Internet Shutdown Tracker reveals that there were a total of 58 internet disruptions in these 14 countries during or after the adoption of the resolution.

India stands out as the country that has “broken its word” the most, with 19 internet disruptions since the resolution’s adoption in 2021, adding that if it included the Jammu and Kashmir region, this number would be even higher.

The Human Rights Council convenes at least three regular sessions annually. The upcoming 53rd session is scheduled for the summer of 2023.

“While the agenda of the specific resolution is currently unknown, Surfshark will keep an eye out for any updates regarding upcoming UN resolutions on human rights on the internet,” the firm noted.

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WhatsApp to Roll Out Screen-Sharing Feature for Video Calls

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By Adedapo Adesanya

WhatsApp is rolling out a new feature that allows users to share their screens during a video call.

According to WABetaInfo, a WhatsApp reporting blog, this screen-sharing feature is not available to all users yet but is already available to some beta testers who have installed the latest WhatsApp update from the Google Play store.

It could be part of a play to make the company get more acceptance for work meetings and compete with the likes of Zoom, Google Meet, and Microsoft Teams.

Last September, the Meta-owned platform rolled out a new feature that allows users to share a direct link to a call. It also allows up to 32 users during a call session. However, Google Meet, Microsoft Teams, and Zoom allow for large numbers on a call. The first two can take up to 100, while up to 300 people can be on a single Zoom call.

With the soon-to-be-available feature, when users are on a video call, a new icon will be available on the bottom toolbar that will enable users to share everything on their screen with other members of the call.

WhatsApp users will be able to stop screen sharing at any time and will only be enabled with the consent of the sharer.

While the feature is currently only available to Beta testers, WABetaInfo said that it will become available to more users over the coming weeks.

However, “This feature may be unavailable on old versions of Android, screen-sharing may not work in large group calls, and the recipient may be unable to get the content of your screen in case they are using an outdated version of WhatsApp,” read the WABetaInfo post.

Screen-sharing functions have been available on online video conferencing services such as Microsoft Teams and Zoom for a while.

The blog also announced that WhatsApp is working on releasing a username function in an effort to facilitate more private communication.

These are the latest in a string of new features available on the Meta-owned messaging application.

WhatsApp recently introduced a feature that allows users to edit WhatsApp messages for up to 15 minutes after sending them.

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Nvidia Joins Exclusive $1trn Market Cap Club 

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Nvidia

By Adedapo Adesanya

Nvidia has just become a $1 trillion company, making it the first chipmaker to join the exclusive trillion-dollar club in the United States stock market.

With this, the chipmaker has earned a seat at the table with other members of the club, which include Apple, Microsoft, Google’s Alphabet, and Amazon.

The rise in valuation was fueled by tech companies, big and small, racing to add generative artificial intelligence tools to their products.

AI tools made up the vast bulk of recent Google I/O and Microsoft Build presentations, and Nvidia’s chips make it a key supplier for companies trying to build something with AI.

Over the weekend, Nvidia’s Computex 2023 keynote was full of AI announcements, including a demo of games using natural language both for input and for character responses instead of scripts and a new supercomputer built around its latest GH200 Grace Hopper Superchip capable of an exaflop of GPU performance.

Its valuation pushed over the trillion-dollar benchmark as trading opened today at over $400 per share.

According to Reuters, Nvidia’s shares rose about 25 per cent last week, sparking a rally in AI-related stocks and boosting other chipmakers, helping the Philadelphia SE Semiconductor index close on Friday at its highest in over a year.

Significantly, Nvidia forecast $11 billion in sales for the fiscal second quarter of 2024 alone. Expected sales were 50 per cent higher than consensus estimates of $7.15 billion.

OpenAI-owned ChatGPT’s rapid success has prompted tech giants such as Alphabet and Microsoft to make the most of generative AI, which can engage in human-like conversation and craft everything from jokes to poetry.

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